By Rachel Fielden.
There is a scene in the famous TV show Gilmore Girls in which one of the main characters, Rory Gilmore, cries on the bathroom floor to her friends about the impending doom she feels about finishing university. “It’s like I am standing on this cliff looking out into this huge foggy abyss”. Rory’s words encapsulate all the fear, the pressure, and the expectations that had sat all too heavily upon my mind for the months preceding my graduation. Call it dramatic but the unknown just seemed so daunting.
Little did I know that that spur of panic, adrenaline, or whatever one would call it, would lead me to an internship at WebRoots Democracy; an opportunity that exceeded all my expectations.
The WebRoots team is made up of eight volunteers; all in different stages of their careers in various fields, companies and universities. They all came from different walks of life with differing world views and approaches. Yet they are all united by a passion for enacting positive and effective change to the functioning of politics in this country.
The close-knit team was so welcoming and friendly. Team meetings seemed more like chats between friends that just happened to be focused, well organised and work-related. This environment put me at ease to express my ideas and perspectives from the outset. Even when my ideas didn’t always make the cut, I felt as if my voice had been listened to and that I could quickly learn and try again. Coming to the end of my internship at WebRoots Democracy, I can already tell that this has had a permanent effect on my work ethic as I feel a much more confident about expressing myself in a new working environment.
The opportunities to excel
Within my first month at WebRoots, I was offered the opportunity to chair a panel discussion held in the House of Commons with panelists such as Jonathan Bartley, Cat Smith MP, and Baroness Sal Brinton (to name a few). I shook with nerves and excitement as the offer was beyond what I had anticipated as an intern. I soon came to understand that this was the norm at WebRoots; a place which encourages and lends occasion to its team members to constantly push their own boundaries.
This is enabled by the fast-paced and constantly changing nature of the work that WebRoots does, which means that there is no chance to stand still or get bored. Almost every week, I was focused on something new and different, giving me the chance to learn and practice new skills as well as have real responsibilities. Tasks ranged from studying company accounts and chairing roundtables, to writing reports (such as, the Military Voting report and the Cost of Voting report) and submitting FOI requests. One of my favourite tasks was filming for Forces TV and getting the chance to work behind the scenes of news production.
If you are looking to do an internship at WebRoots Democracy and need any more convincing, let me just say that you will leave WebRoots knowing a lot more than about fetching coffee, as you will learn new skills and have experiences that will be valuable regardless of what you pursue in the future.
The unforgettable memories
Scattered within my time interning at WebRoots were countless prodigious and remarkable experiences that I will treasure for the rest of my life. It is not every day that you get to have meetings with Lords, Knights and Ministers (Lord Lexden, Sir Ken Knight and Penny Mordaunt) and have the chance to discuss your opinions on politics with them, but at WebRoots it really is almost every day! But I have to say that the most unexpected encounter of them all had to have been with the Tardis and a Dalek at the BBC studios when we were invited to speak on BBC Radio Wales.
All that pre-graduation panic has quelled with thanks to my internship WebRoots Democracy. The experience has left me feeling far more confident in my own capabilities and has taught me a lot about advocacy, political activism and more. I am very thankful to WebRoots for welcoming me onto the team and I will miss you all greatly!
Rachel Fielden is the Research and Administration Intern at WebRoots Democracy.